Conversations in Grief Blog: "What Do I Know?"
What Do I Know?
By Laura Wessels
I’m surprised by my grief.
I’ve always thought other people were the ones to judge someone else’s grief. But I’m the one judging my grief. My dad’s deepest hope was to die before reaching his 90th birthday. He died on January 12, 2023, less than three months before reaching 90. So why grieve for him? I have decided that my grief can be set aside because my dad was ready for eternal peace.
My mom is the one to be concerned about. She lost her partner of over 65 years. My mom needs my support and I focus on her grief.
I compare my grief to others and find that mine must be less. I’m working to keep my grief at a distance.
Yet…I am sad. I don’t feel grateful. I’m not thinking clearly. I’m not sleeping well. I have headaches, and I never have headaches. I’m tired. No, it’s more than that; I am exhausted. And I am shocked by everything I am feeling and experiencing.
As always, those who have gone before me are my teachers.
I’ve been encouraged to receive my grief. Even though my dad was old, and he was ready to die, I miss him. I miss that I am out of time to hear more of his memories and stories. I also grieve for what he lost before death. Five years in a skilled care facility, unable to walk and living in a small room waiting for people to visit him. Today, I was at a thrift store where I often looked for books that I thought my dad would enjoy. I felt that shudder of grief as I realized I would never have to search for books for him again.
In her book A Hole in the World, Amanda Held Opelt invites me to move toward my grief instead of moving away from it. “Remain under the brutal burden of grief. Stare it straight in the eye.” As I stare grief in the eye, I realize that my grief is showing up in sadness, lack of gratitude, not thinking well, not sleeping well, headaches, and exhaustion. This is the way I am grieving.
I shared my new grief with another daughter who is grieving for her mother. I told her, “I’m learning.” And she assured me, “You’ll figure it out like the rest of us, one day at a time.”
My grief has surprised me, how it has shown up, and how I have tried to deny it. How has your grief surprised you? What are you learning about your grief? Are you able to accept how you are grieving?